What to do if your cat ate rat poison

If your cat ate rat poison, he requires immediate veterinary help. Rat poison toxicosis can lead to a lethal outcome in cats because of a few early signs and fast performance.

In this article, you will learn about the signs and treatments of rodenticide poisoning in cats.

cat playing with a mouse

IMPORTANT: Visit a veterinarian immediately if you think your cat has eaten rat poison. Early steps are crucial for successful treatment. Bring the poison package with you.

How does rat poison work?

There are different kinds of rodenticide on the market, but most common ones are anti-coagulant rat poisons. Their active ingredients, such as brodifacoum or warfarin, prevent blood from clogging. It eventually leads to internal bleeding and death of the rat.

Be aware that early after ingestion, there may be no signs at all. That is, even if you only suspect your cat has eaten rodenticide, do not hesitate to visit a veterinarian, instead of waiting for signs to appear.

Signs of anticoagulant rat poisoning in cats

  • bleeding nose
  • blood in urine
  • blood in feces
  • pale gums due to blood loss
  • swollen abdomen due to concentration of blood
  • hematomas
  • lethargy and depression due to blood loss

There are other types of rodenticides, too. For example, active ingredient bromethalin has become popular recently. It affects the brain, resulting in neurological signs.

Signs of bromethalin poisoning in cats

  • hypersensitivity to touch
  • hyper-excitability
  • limb paralysis
  • muscle tremors
  • seizures

What to do if you think your cat ate a rat poison

It does not matter if you only suspect that your cat might have eaten a rat bait. You must take your cat to an emergency veterinarian immediately since the early treatment is the most successful.

If possible, bring the package or brand name of the rodenticide ingested. Treatment depends not only on the type of rodenticide but also on its active ingredient and concentration.

Depending on the severity, your cat may be treated inpatient or let home the same day. Make sure to follow your veterinarian’s instructions precisely.

Likely you will need to restrict your pet’s outdoor access and activity. However, the most essential thing, you must prevent your cat from eating rat poison repeatedly.

How to prevent your cat from eating rat bait

Cats can eat rat poison in several ways. Most commonly they find rodenticide set up in their own home or during their outdoor ventures. Secondary poisoning, that is, poisoning after hunting down a sick rat, is less likely, though possible.

Intentional cat poisoning by discontent neighbors is not a rarity, also, even though dogs are more frequent victims of this. The stupid thing is that intentional poisoning is hard to prove.

But can you prevent your cat from eating rodenticide?

  • Use alternative ways to exterminate vermin. Rodenticide isn’t the only option available, and, if you care about your pets and other animals, don’t use it. Wise placement of traps is an equally effective way to exterminate pests.  Note that unwise placement of traps can also harm cats, though is unlikely to kill one.
  • Use bait stations. If alternatives are not up to consideration, then use a bait station. Bait stations are closed boxes with openings, small enough to keep pets out, large enough to let in mice and rats. Remember that they are still not completely tamper-proof and you should position them out of your pet’s reach.
  • Do not place a large amount of rodenticide in the same location. Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions. Dosages, listed on the package, limit risks of toxicosis in other animals, including cats and dogs.
  • Contact a professional pest exterminator. They are experienced, knowledgeable about what they do and more effective than average do-it-yourselfer. They may solve your problem without using rodenticides; if not, they use them with high responsibility.
  • Prevent pests from returning. Extermination is only one part of the process. Keep your house rodent-proof, seal the possible rat entry points, don’t let garbage and food leftovers to accumulate. Also, remove any objects and vegetation, that can serve as a rodent nest, from your yard.
  • Store the poison out of your pet’s reach. Put it in a closed space that pets can’t access and don’t dispose of rat poison in the regular trash.
  • Keep your cat indoors. Since you have no control over how your neighbors get rid of pests, it is wiser to keep a cat from wandering around and eating whatever he or she wants. There is no doubt that indoor life is much safer and indoor cats do live longer than outdoor ones.

Treating rodenticide poisoning is successful only if you seek medical help early after the ingestion — within 4 to 24 hours, depending on the poison in question. Preventing your pet from ingesting rat poison in the first place is a much safer and easier thing to do. However, if your cat ate rat poison despite all the efforts, visit your veterinarian immediately.